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15 December 2013 @ 12:11 am
December Blogging Meme: How I Became A Cyclist  
This one is for desertport, who might not be at all surprised to find out that it happened somewhat serendipitously.

In Junior High and High School, my transportation was walking, biking, or (rarely) the bus. The same was true for college, including those awful early mornings when I sometimes had to bike across town to campus from my parents' house, to sign on the college radio station. I always had to bike very close to a cannery next to the river, and let me just say that beets and even creamed corn are very unwelcome smells at 5:30am. Urgh.

There is a jogging & bike path along the Willamette River in Eugene, and I started riding on it a lot for exercise before and during my senior year of college. Looking back, I can say that it was a pretty short path, but an 8-9 mile loop seemed like a lot at the time!

I moved to Illinois to work in radio after college, and one of the guys there was a cyclist. It was a few years before I caved in, but during my final summer I biked around a lot on weekends. I liked it, enough that I kept at it when I moved to Sacramento.

Sacramento has a wonderful, extended bike path along the American River, and my new job's office was just off of one of the access points. I usually biked after work (during seasons with longer daylight), and soon met the man who became my husband... who loved to bike as a hobby. We did a lot of weekend riding together, and before long my uncle gifted me with a custom-made/equipped bike that was far superior to my old 10-speed (which apparently had been a few frame-sizes too small). The riding began in earnest then, and kept going after I left that job, went back to college for a Master's Degree, and then started a new job (which has nearby rural roads for riding on and a lot of other employees who like cycling).

I rode 10-15 mile stretches for many years, but added a little more distance while biking near the new office (15-16 miles just before I had my first child). After my daughter was born, the battle to lose the baby weight began and I increased the biking and the distance... and it got crazier after the second child. I've backed off from doing 28-30-mile rides on the long days (26 now), and after age 40 I had to crosstrain more frequently (I usually bike 3-4 days a week now, and typically not more than 2 days in a row. On the third day, my legs are slow, leaden, and aching, which is what they used to feel like on the 4th day when I was younger).

I'm lucky to live in this city right now, because the opportunities for biking are really good. There are also more bikeable days a year than in snow climates or ultra-rainy areas (some people DO bike in the rain, but I only do it accidentally. The brakes, handlebars, and tires get slippery, and puddles collect in your shoes). I'm sorry to see the area near my office becoming more developed (mostly more stop signs, lights, and traffic), but there's still a lot of open road and if the weather's good, I'll probably be on it.

Thanks to desertport for this wonderful topic. :)

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Port: runnerdesertport on December 17th, 2013 06:18 am (UTC)
So biking is a lifelong love of yours! I wish I had a physical activity I were half as devoted to. <3
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 17th, 2013 06:54 am (UTC)
How do you feel about walking? Which can lead to hiking?

I miss hiking a lot. :( Before the kids, we used to hike a lot in the Cascades when we'd visit Oregon in the summer, and hike at the coast over Memorial Day weekend. My husband's new hip means hiking could be possible again, but it's been about 17 years minus the year I could carry Lauren in a backpack while hiking (before getting pregnant with my son).
Port: coffee and booksdesertport on December 17th, 2013 07:10 am (UTC)
Walking is highly underrated and I should do it more, especially since I've been spacing out a little lately; might as well get some exercise while thinking too much! Hiking is awesome too. But I only really do it on some vacations, or if a friend is into it. I think I get nervous trying to find and navigate trails without stranding myself in the middle of nowhere. Even here in the city, which is ridiculous. I hope you and your husband are able to get back to it, especially since you don't have to carry anyone now. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 17th, 2013 07:23 am (UTC)
Carrying Lauren was its own adventure--she was little heavy, but the pack harness was pretty comfortable. Mainly, this was when she'd just turned 1 and was in the phase where if she got sleepy while doing something she enjoyed, she'd start yelling or beating on things to try to keep herself awake. There's nothing like having a baby smacking you in the back of your hiking hat, and then eventually keeling over and falling asleep on your neck, to make you appreciate the absurdity of life.

Those experiences also made me seriously consider writing hiking guides that included information for people with physical limitations. My husband's flexibility and balance aren't very good, and with a baby on my back, mine weren't either. We'd get 1.5 miles into a hike and discover a log bridge across a stream-- literally, just one log. You'd think that would be mentioned up front! Or a stream that had to be crossed by hopping from one rock to another. None of that is easy with a one-year-old on board, at least not for me.

There-and-back hikes are hard to get lost on. Just saying. And Tryon Creek isn't very big. You always know where the creek is, and which side of it the car is on. ;)
Port: runnerdesertport on December 17th, 2013 07:50 am (UTC)
... to make you appreciate the absurdity of life.

That is exactly the attitude to take, and pretty much the one I adopt at some point most days. I hope you have pictures somewhere of you both set up in your gear with Lauren peeking over your shoulder; I think they'd be pretty adorable.

Yeah, I should get on that horse. But it's winter now, so I think hiking is out for me till things dry up. It's sad, because when I moved up here from L.A., Oregon seemed like basically a giant state park, and it kind of is, but I never got into the habit of doing outdoors things. I think it mainly is just a matter of creating new habits. I used to take a morning run every day when I was in college, so it's clearly possible!